Now in its third year of a five-year strategic plan to transform The University of Tulsa’s financial health and ensure its long-term future, TU has made significant progress, rapidly realizing millions in short-term cost reductions. With the higher education landscape changing even more dramatically than expected, a new strategic direction for the university is required. Cost-cutting alone is not enough for TU to reach its goals of a sustainable long-term financial future and an ability to invest in areas of excellence and opportunity.
This past spring, the TU Board of Trustees invited Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to work together over two sessions, focusing on a strategic planning process. The board also established an Ad Hoc Strategy Committee in July to lead an exploration process to assess the need for and identify strategic partners to help with this endeavor and report any recommendations.
“Setting the strategic direction for the university is one of the fundamental roles of the board,” Chairwoman Dana Weber said. “BCG really impressed us this spring. Their proposal for guiding us toward alignment to accomplish our goals, the extensive expertise they bring, having worked with more than 100 universities across the U.S. facing similar challenges, and the depth of their resources will help us quickly work with the university community to get us on a solid strategic direction. It will also allow university leadership, faculty and other key stakeholders to focus on their primary duty – running a world-class university during a global pandemic.”
Among the key components of BCG’s approach was its inclusion of stakeholders in the process and the opportunity to incorporate input received from the separate faculty-led planning process into the assessment and testing. The majority of funding for this project was made possible by the generosity of several donors. Additionally, BCG’s hypothesis testing will ensure paths to success tailored to TU’s specific needs.
With BCG’s help, by semester’s end, TU expects to have in place:
- A strategic blueprint for moving forward
- A business model for the identified pathways
- An engagement plan with a compelling narrative that clearly translates the vision strategy for key stakeholders and influencers
- An implementation plan
“As I’ve said before, I’m so proud of all the great work the community has accomplished in such a short period of time under trying circumstances to address our budget challenges,” said Interim President Janet Levit. “With the educational landscape changing rapidly, particularly in light of the added pressures and new realities of the pandemic, time is critical to maintaining the momentum of the hard work to date and to keep us moving forward on our road to long-term sustainability. We still have challenges ahead, and I commend the board for making this investment in our future. I’m looking forward to working with BCG during the next couple of months, and I encourage our faculty, staff and other stakeholders to participate openly and honestly in the process as well. Together we will get TU where we know it can be.”
BCG will begin work in September and is scheduled to wrap up in approximately 12 weeks.